Federal officials take issue with yesterday’s New York Times editorial that called for clemency or a plea deal for leaker Edward Snowden and accused intelligence agencies of intentionally violating the law, reports Politico. Drawing the ire of Obama administration officials is the Times’s suggestion that Snowden should be off the hook because he revealed that the government set out to act illegally on a broad scale. “When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government,” the Times wrote.
Some practices of the National Security Agency, such as the collection of telephone metadata in the U.S., may be ultimately ruled unlawful or unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. That’s a far cry from justifying the Times’s implication that officials set out to violate the law. In this case, officials repeatedly obtained authorization from 15 federal court judges for the metadata gathering. Said one government official, speaking on condition of anonymity: “There’s absolutely no evidence any government officials or employees violated the law,” the official said Thursday. “The piece is based on an absolutely inaccurate premise and that is that laws have been broken…Snowden broke the law and the people conducting these activities were doing so in compliance with the law.”